Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong UnReuters

North Korea has not responded to behind-the-scenes diplomatic outreach since mid-February by President Joe Biden’s administration, including to Pyongyang’s mission to the United Nations, a senior Biden administration official told Reuters on Saturday.

The senior Biden administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, offered few details on the diplomatic push, but said there had been efforts to reach out to the North Korean government “through several channels starting in mid-February, including in New York.”

“To date, we have not received any response from Pyongyang,” the official told Reuters.

North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Former US President Donald Trump tried to reached an agreement with North Korea while in office. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The pair had met three times since June 2018 but made little progress towards denuclearization.

Since those talks broke down, North Korea has conducted several tests of ballistic missiles.

The Biden administration has so far been cautious in publicly describing its approach to North Korea, saying it is carrying out a comprehensive policy review following Trump’s unprecedented engagement with Kim.

Shortly before Biden took office, the North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party held its first congress in five years. During the congress, Kim was named the “general secretary” of the party.

In remarks he made at the start of the gathering, Kim threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and stated that the fate of relations with the United States depends on whether it abandons its “hostile policy”.

Later, North Korea displayed what appeared to be a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) at a parade.

The US official who spoke to Reuters declined to speculate about how the silence from Pyongyang would impact the Biden administration’s North Korea policy review, which was expected to be completed in the coming weeks.